Promotion struggles


Bonjour cinqcinqcinq-cinqcinqcinqcinq,

I am interested in the marketing side of things when it comes to music, musical releases and djs / artists.
Moreover, I’d like to try and focus the discussion on smaller, more “underground” things that don’t have unlimited amount of cash to spend on marketing and/or a team of marketing professionals.

In order to get some experience of all of this, i came up with a release, under names that nobody knows, so that I have a “starter” image at the market. These are the following things that I did so far:

  1. Prepared a promolist of e-mail addresses from successful, more established, less established DJs and Producers and online music webzines, magazines and influencers. This promolist has at the moment 75 unique e-mail addresses. I made a relatively professional looking press release to make the e-mail attractive.

So far, I have literally received 3 e-mails with: 1. “thanks” 2. “will check this out” 3. “big up”

From all the magazines and webzines that I contacted nobody replied, but I did get back notification that 1 magazine’s inbox is full (lol).

Return on investment = 0 (almost)

  1. I reached out to a PR advertising company, but unfortunately I found 400 pounds too expensive for the same thing that I did at #1 (and overall too much money for an experiment).

Return on investment = I found out how expensive PRing is (I mean come on, 400 pounds to spam promos to your contacts?!)

  1. I went on some websites where you can buy soundcloud plays. I didn’t buy any, but they do offer (in some situations) free plays, so I got like 200 free plays.

Return on investment = 0 (well 200 fake plays, fake or not, who cares?)

  1. I made a post on facebook and spent 7 euros to boost the post (aka paid ads). The ad is still running. On the first day it reach like 5000 people, got 42 likes which were for some weird reason all from African users. After the first day, I decided to scale down the audience to Europe only. Now facebook is showing me that the most spammed (with my post) country in Europe is Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro (these countries have nothing to do with my music). Over the days, the likes haven’t increased at all, which hypothetically speaking means that Africans are more prone to like Sponsored ads than Europeans?!

Return on investment = 42 likes

  1. Posted a video with the song on youtube, got no views so I did the same thing as with soundcloud and got 1000 views for free. Since then the views increase like 1 or 2 views per day…

Return on investment = 0 (well 1000 fake views, fake or not, who cares?)

  1. Hacked this video into the irritating IGTV format and put it on instagram too. Surprisingly the video got about 30 likes from random people.

Return on investment = 30 likes

  1. I reached out personally on IG to DJs that I look up to and I asked for their e-mail address to see if I can send them the song. Surprisingly the biggest DJ out of all of them replied in like 5 minutes, the DJs (10 in total) that literally kiss his all the time ignored my messages.

Return on investment = 1 e-mail address

By “investment”, I mean the time that i’ve put into all of this. Just because this project is for me to find out marketing insights, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t take serious.

Now, I would like to put myself in other small labels’ shoes and see:

  1. How do they plan their marketing campaign?
  2. What tools / channels do they use?
  3. How do they get their music out there in an oversaturated market?
  4. How do they deal with the disappointment of all the efforts vs. benefits from these efforts?




interesting trial. I guess it depends how you plan to define ‘small label’. Most successful small labels seem to do small run cassette or record releases where their mini-distro and friends are guaranteed to snag about 50% of stock, and the artist pushes the remainder. They perpetually hit a break-even and that group of followers are able to create sustainable promotion without many additional resources entering the picture.

using myself as an example, i find most new music via bandcamp/soundcloud feed. i’ve hedged out anyone who’s doing exchange driven reposts - fake listens wont really do much to push promo unless you’re planning to market to people who rarely pay for music anyhow.

even in the internet age, i still think most (especially small) labels are human driven. mid-large tier labels are just doing the same marketing techniques - ie, what you’ve done but with thousands and intelligent distro/promotional campaigns worked out.


@nikewarrior1 hey, your description is very funny and roughly what I get as well (including the “over quota” thing in official emails from bloggers).
However, you are forgetting other online resources, such as reaching bloggers with submithub (and maybe other similar platforms?).
In my case, Spotify plays a big role (among other things because plays are monetised, and in SoundCloud or YT ain’t). So add to this minilabel list “contact with playlist curators”. How? one by one. Sorry. no easy way. Door to door, like when selling vacuum cleaners.



@Spednar long story short, i don’t really have friends, so i can’t benefit off their support :smiley:
Also that would mess with my experiment because they would support the release because it’s me and not because they actually like the songs, so I consider this the same as buying people to buy your music aka buying sales?! :smiley:

Besides this, I never really understood those awkward cassette releases. I was given once one, i didn’t even open it and now it’s collecting dust and i will probably just throw it in the garbage soon…

I know how the soundcloud feed works, is the bandcamp feed similar to this? If so, then how are you supposed to stumble upon new music and artists (like my release)?

@JuanSo could you maybe tell me more about submithub? Also where does man find contacts to playlist curators?

Thanks a lot.



I fear that this happen at all levels. People like the artists (or rather their image) and the music comes besides.


Those are worlds in themselves.
Submithub is a platform where you can contact Blogs that WANT to be contacted. There is a simple filter by genre. And 2 versions: paid and free (limited), which is the one that I use.
It’s worth a visit


Another world in itself.
Quick answer; on internet :slight_smile:

The main plan is:

  • check some playlists in your genre. Small, middle and big playlists. Forget for a moment about editorial playlists and go for the independent curators
  • You will see their curators
  • Find them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, reddit; 555-5555, whatever place they might be
  • Contact them and beg on your knees

I never said this was gonna be easy.


@JuanSo haha, thanks for the info!

I wonder, what other people think about all of this (original post)?


yes me too because I have the impression that indies have each a part of the answer, but seldom the whole picture,

By the way, your word construction looks like German, right?


Well maybe people are not that keen on sharing their promotion tactics since they either have the same results as me or they know something super efficient and they’d like to keep it a secret… :frowning:

I’m from NL.


I used to find promotion quite easy but these days I don’t even bother releasing anything as I have boxes of releases I put a lot of time and energy into that are sitting unsold.


Understandable :(.
I got an update on my facebook ads campaign, basically since I decreased the geographic area to Europe, I received 1 like. So i guess it’s true the Europeans are less keen to like pages/posts.
With that being said the Campaign seemed to be useless (and waste of money) after targeting Europe only.


Following this thread.
As a (very) small label owner I find it so hard to stand out in the constant flood of new music coming out and marketing is where I struggle the most…


Check this out:

Love it when people are (false) “preaching” on twitter…


nice one N1ke, i’ve recently begun a similar endeavor and had a similar experience. ultimately i’m hoping the music ‘speaks for itself’ but i know the realities are somewhat different.

thanks for the submithub recommend JuanSo :smile_cat:


I am still struggling with facebook. I have quite a big amount of friends and I noticed that when I post anything related to my experiment, nobody really likes it, yet when i post a stupid meme then I get around 50 likes.

Is it true that facebook is hiding posts that include links so that you spend your money to boost it?

How can one trick the algorythm?


I made my first experiment with boosting a post this week. Got a whole three likes! Still nobody has bought my new release though. Quite depressing.


I think it’s essential that we put ourselves in the shoes of the people who just randomly see an ad in their timeline. Unless they heard of / know of the artist / brand / w/e, would they ever click on it?

Some insights from my experiment:


I ran three ads because in-between I calibrated the audiences (as mentioned above).

Statistics: post reach 17619, out of these 0.69% engaged (0.23% liked the post, while 0.45% clicked on the link).
Nobody pre-ordered (or bought the music) so basically my revenue from this was 0. Meaning that I spent 7 euros on nothing. Some people look like they clicked on the link accidentally cuz it didn’t show up as a view/listen on soundcloud/bandcamp/youtube.

The things that I learnt from the facebook experience are:

  1. You will not generate a fan base (and in the end sales) by promoting your “underground” music to unknown potential fans.

  2. When facebook says:
    In the first day it will reach out to around 50-60% of that potential and it will spam you with the results like “wow look you reached out to so many people already in the first day” and then in the upcoming days it will reach out to the bare minimum of it…

  3. It is best if you make a post that can be boosted several times (so a post that is not mentioning time or date) so that it doesn’t matter WHEN you boost it.

  4. If you’re looking to make a relatively more successful campaign then a possible strategy can be the following:

  • Boost your post with targeting less developed geographies. People here seem to think less before liking something and they would like ANYTHING (unfortunately they won’t buy).

  • Keep this running for a couple of days (depending on your budget), you will get enough likes for your post to make it look like “wow people like this shit”. If you have time, it’s worth checking out their profiles just to see how people live their social life on the other side of the world.

  • Once you gathered enough likes, invite all of these people to like your page (worst thing, they won’t like your page). In my case 5-10% of the people invited LIKEd my page

  • Once your boosted post, had enough likes and you squeezed out all the juice of these people (aka they liked your page)…let’s face it, they will not buy your music anyways. You edit the targeted demography to more developed areas where Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Deezer etc. are household names.

  • Here you boost your post for a longer period of time and pray and hope that once they see that “so many people liked this”, they will also click and buy/stream. Then you might get a return on investment of like 25-50% (which I didn’t).

I’ll keep you updated on how this experience is going further…


these experiments are interesting but not really worth it in my opinion mate. the benign asset of a like or play doesn’t really speak to the value youre gaining as an artist for monetary or networking purposes, really. at least the ones delving facebook likes and plays. the ones with email contacting is very real/valuable, but its also a complete gamble thats subjective for anyone (and rarely has to do with the content itself being sent)

it always comes down to personal relations honestly. very very very few releases post circa 2010 can become this major album or artist based on the whimsical encounter of a major journalist/publication posting some completely unprecedented release as the thing you should be listening to now. when you do digging into the people who have gotten huge since then (opn, ferraro, etc), despite whatever image of isolation or w/e they project, theres a pretty easy breadcrumb trail to follow that all came from networking and shit. fuckin NYC/LA man, and partying with a lot of people

if you wanna have significant networking success through the internet, the only two things you can do (and they must happen together) is 1) make sure what youre putting out is seriously fucking good, and 2) get your hand in multiple online communities both big (reddit, 4chan) and small (555, idk many others), the latter being a riskier/phonier version of the networking breadcrumb trail i mentioned related to opn/ferraro

the opn/ferraro limelight im referencing is a pretty steep hill to envision, but even getting to smaller label/artist value like (insert your favorite) still has the same mechanics


One thing I can contribute to this thread from my own experience: if you’re boosting a post that is about a new release, just target people who already like your page. Don’t try to construct an audience profile in the Facebook advertising tool, because it’s a completely opaque process that I think shouldn’t be trusted. Paying Facebook to push stuff to people who’d otherwise have no chance of encountering it doesn’t really work. It just results in a bunch of likes from people who will never look at the page again, as @nikewarrior1’s experiments seem to show. I think there genuinely are a lot of people in the Global South who earn microtransaction type money by clicking targeted advertising.

Instead, the priority for a new release should be to get people who’ve already expressed an interest in your stuff to go one step further and listen/buy it. And targeting people who like your page is a bit more organic - chances are some of the people who like your page will have friends with similar musical interests.

(This is where we grumble about Facebook making you pay to reach your own goddamn audience, but y’know, that’s only one of the ways in which Facebook is fucked - we can always not use it).